The Cleveland Browns are the only team to not win the AFC North title dating back to the turn of the century. You have to go all the way back to 1989 to find the last time it did in a season that once again ended with an AFC title game loss to the Denver Broncos. Be that as it may, FanDuel Sportsbook has Kevin Stefanski’s squad the marginal favorite to end that streak in the upcoming 2022-23 NFL betting season. They’re followed by the Baltimore Ravens (+200), Cincinnati Bengals (+220), and Pittsburgh Steelers (+850). As much as I’d like to think the Browns have it in them to end the streak, they’re still the Cleveland Browns and there’s nothing they can do about it; even with Deshaun Watson showing Baker Mayfield the door. The Bengals clocking in as the third choice is disrespectful in my book. While the difference between the expected top-three is marginal at best, Joe Burrow and the reigning AFC champs deserve more respect! Without taking schedules into account, the following are the two teams I’ve wagered on to take home bragging rights heading into the thick of the offseason.
AFC North Odds at FanDuel Sportsbook
Cleveland Browns +185
Baltimore Ravens +200
Cincinnati Bengals +220
Pittsburgh Steelers +850
Baltimore Ravens +200
Though the injury bug decimated the Ravens 2021-22 campaign, John Harbaugh and his staff was still able to keep this team in contention for a playoff bid until the bitter end. Baltimore wasn’t eliminated from playoff contention until Week 18 when it dropped a 16-13 decision to the Steelers in overtime. There’s something to be said for the team to still be able to remain competitive without the services of J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, and Ronnie Stanley. Guess what? Each and every one of those players is expected to be back on the field and healthy by Week 1. That bodes extremely well for Lamar Jackson and Co. regardless of the QB1 being miffed about the trade that sent Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to the Arizona Cardinals on draft night. He’ll find a way to get it done with Mark Andrews and a bevy of new tight end help just brought in. Not to mention a stellar ground game!
So I’m thinking the Ravens should hold a crash course on how to dominate the draft as readily able this franchise has been to smash for as long as I can remember. Seriously! Kyle Hamilton at No. 14! Trading back into the first round to snag Iowa C Tyler Linderbaum! GM Eric DeCosta knocked out two of three team needs before the first round came to a close! To add insult to injury, he took advantage of Michigan EDGE David Ojabo slipping to the mid-second, and then added even more OL help with the addition of Minnesota OT Daniel Faalele in the fifth. This team just gets it man! As banged up they were a season ago, the squad still went on to win eight games both SU and ATS. This year’s win total is currently 9.5 with heavy -130 juice on the over. Provided health isn’t once again an issue, it shouldn’t have problems surpassing the impost. A double-digit win total should at the very least have it in the running for the division title.
Cincinnati Bengals +220
Had the Bengals been able to see last year’s unexpected run to the Super Bowl all the way through, the team would’ve made those with the foresight to bet them to win it all early in the season a boatload of money. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. Even so, this team was able to experience what it takes to get there much earlier than the rebuild expected. The rapport built between Burrow and rookie Ja’Marr Chase was electric to say the least. So much so that it earned the latter the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. After combining for over 1450 yards and 13 TD, the duo will be back looking to make sweet music with one another along with Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd.
Only this time, reinforcements have been brought in along the offensive line to hopefully keep those pesky defenders from throwing their quarterback around like a rag doll. Former Dallas Cowboys G La’el Collins is now a member of the front wall along with Alex Cappa and Ted Karras. The additions should help greatly reduce the 55 sacks allowed a season ago. Burrow was given next to no time to do his thing and still excelled. What’s going to happen when he actually has time to survey the field and find his excellent pass catchers in space? Is it possible an MVP Award is in his near future? Just call the 2022-23 Cincinnati Bengals the Rodney Dangerfields due to getting absolutely no respect.